A fourth successive win for the Reds was completely overshadowed as the game with Hartpury had to be stopped and eventually declared over as a result of a medical emergency involving a spectator.
With 73 minutes played, members of the crowd alerted match officials and medics to the situation, enabling the spectator concerned to receive immediate treatment prior to his care being taken up by paramedics and a transfer by ambulance to the Gloucester Royal Hospital.
Having stopped the game and directed the players to leave the field, referee Dan Jones eventually signalled full-time, with an indication that the result would stand, in line with league regulations covering the abandonment of a Championship game after more than 60 minutes had been played.
Jersey Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon praised the prompt action by the referee and medical staff and spoke for the entire visiting party in sending his thoughts to the spectator concerned, and to his family and friends.
The match was played at a high temp from the start, with home winger Sam Smith among those to catch the eye, running back a clearing kick to set up the opening try for Mitch Eadie after just three minutes.
Scott Van Breda responded for the Reds with a try he converted himself and then a well-worked lineout move brought a try for skipper Lewis Wynne on his return to the starting line-up.
There were three more tries before the break to make it 19-apiece: scrum-half Toby Venner and Sam Smith for the hosts and a textbook maul for the visitors, finished by Harry Doolan for his third try in two games.
Hartpury were out of the blocks faster after the break, with brothers Charlie and Ben Foley each claiming a try to put their side 31-19 ahead and fuel hopes of a first win over the Reds on home turf at the sixth attempt.
But the Reds raised their game, with the pack managing to take control and set the platform for three tries. Will Brown struck first with a good finish for his eighth try in as many games, then Eoghan Clarke marked his introduction in place of Doolan with a mauled effort, and finally Jordan Holgate crashed over powerfully from close range.
Van Breda added three more conversion to reach a personal tally of 15 points and put the visitors more than a score clear, but within a minute of the final try the landscape changed dramatically and the game came to a premature end.
The cluster of clubs at the top of the Championship remains a tight one after the weekend’s matches, with Doncaster Knights (59 points) at the top, a point clear of the Reds. The sides ranked in third and fourth places respectively – Ealing Trailfinders (56) and Cornish Pirates (55) both have two games in hand.
Next weekend sees arguably the biggest game of the season in Jersey, with the Reds hosting Trailfinders, while Pirates travel to Bedford and the Knights entertain Hartpury. The February schedule will then conclude with a brace of top-of-the-table clashes: Ealing at home to the Knights on Saturday 26th, and the Reds’ trip to Penzance the following day.
Picture courtesy LNC Images
HARTPURY: Simpson; Smith S, Smith R, Foley C, Foley B; Williams, Venner; Maguire, Hunt, Knight, Lemon, Jordan, Gray, Short, Eadie. Subs: Stratford, Murphy, Gleeson, Dun, Ward, Robinson, Mathews. Unused: Lennon
JERSEY REDS: Owen B; Hutler, Van Breda, Holgate, Brown (Roberts 71); Pittman, Elliott (Mitchell 50); Godfrey, Doolan (Clarke 57), Yendle (Longwell h-t), O’Connor, Everard (Cook 43), Argyle, Wynne (capt), Grey (Lawrence 43). Unused: Owen H, Humfrey
REFEREE: Dan Jones. Assistants: Peter Brunt, Shane Lewis
Half Time: 19-19
Tries: Eadie 3, Venner 25, Smith S 37, Foley B 42, Foley C 52
Conversions: Williams 3, 37, 42
Tries: Van Breda 12, Wynne 20, Doolan 33, Brown 56, Clarke 61, Holgate 70
Conversions: Van Breda 12, 33, 56, 61, 70
Why not come a chillout in the supporters marquee before the game, A fully stocked bar and food is available, seated and standing tables, on a first come first served basis and a great place to meet the Reds supporters.